Sunday, April 6, 2014

Mad Padre's 100k contest

The winter has been long and busy with sadly little modelling done.  I am opening 2014 with a contest link: It's A Contest! Celebrating 100K Page Views For Mad Padre Wargames  Crass opportunism on my part? Not exactly.  The Padre does great work with his gaming.  While I have never been a believer, Padre and those like him put their asses on the line to take care of the mental and spiritual well being of the soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who put themselves in danger.


Napoleon: I hate playing IgoUgo rules with Wellington, he always drags his feet measuring the ranges.

Hanna Reitsch: 0
Yvette: 1

Ichi-sama's chances with Ilsa plummeted when he thought she asked for a "pint-sized perfect head" and not  a "pint with a perfect head".  

Monday, November 11, 2013

Remembrance Day Ottawa - 2013

Just a few pictures to show some of my overseas friends how we do things here.

The was just after 10 looking into the down town core. On a better day, you can see the Peace tower on the parliament buildings just up and left of where the bus is. There was a cold wet snow falling.

War Museum
The War Museum. An imposing bunker like building. More of this later.

Not all business were closed - like this hipster juice bar.

But some get the idea. Incidentally this is a German deli.

Looking up Elgin Street toward the cenotaph. Usually packed with cars, you can see the crowd gathering before the service.

But first a side trip. This is Cartier Square Drill Hall, home to my old regiment the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa.

The Cut Knife Hill memorial. William Osgoode and John Rogers of the regiment were casualties. Actually a defeat for government forces, the battle is commemorated every year by the sergeant's mess. This memorial has gradually been pushed further out of the public eye as political fashions change.

The South African War memorial. Now in roughly the position the Cut knife Hill one once was, it too is being pushed out of view as Canada forgets its Imperial past.

A relatively recent addition, commemorating animals in war. 

A close up of a rather fine first aid dog.

Next up the First Nations memorial.

Built by public subscription, it honours veterans of all First Nations peoples. First Nations men were specifically exempt from any sort of military service but many volunteered  anyway. Some for three square meals a day, others for a bit of land of their own and others simply to get the right to vote.

For my UK friends, if you are lost or in trouble in Ottawa this is the place to go - The British High Commission. 

In the crowd.  The site slopes up gently towards the cenotaph, making a good view tough to find.  But the view is not what it is about.

Screens are placed around the venue (just to the right of the purple hood).

Actually after the service proper during which the camera was quite rightly put away. With all the speeches done and all the dignitaries departed, the crowd moves toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Old connections not quite forgotten.

The press before the tomb. In typical Canadian fashion the crowd circulated through with much polite language and no official queue needed.

At the foot of the cenotaph. 

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Placing poppies on the Tomb is a relatively recent occurrence. A spontaneous demonstration of remembrance,  it lacks some of the hypocrisy found in parts of the official activities. This is early on, the tomb will be covered by the end of the day.

The crowd around the tomb after I left.

The Canadian Parliament Buildings - Centre Block. A bit like Westminster but smaller and colder.

The War Museum coming the other way - from the east.  November 11 is one of the few free days. Veterans and serving members are brought in for special programming. Many school groups take advantage of the opportunity.

Inside the Memorial Hall. Tucked away to one side of the museum entrance, it contains the headstone of an unknown soldier from the Great War. At 11 am on November 11, light from a window shines directly on the headstone.

Diorama work:

First Nations intertribal conflict

Plains of Abraham - Quebec even smaller than a certain bear's 6mm

The Great War,

Full sized depiction of a WWI battle field.

One of the artists models for the Vimy Memorial. The gallery is slightly off level and a subtle haunting sound track gives it a surreal mood.

One of our underappreciated treasures - a Bieber minisub retrieved from the Netherlands after the war. 

M29 Weasel - a product of British eccentricity and Canadian - American cooperation. Note the 79th Armoured insignia.

Canadian madness - the Land Mattress. The rockets didn't always leave the rails before detonating.

War Winners - T-34-85 and Sherman Firefly. A Panther cowers in the background.

Something for the detail obsessed - a Sherman power train teaching model with its underthings on display.

More US-Canada cooperation. A reconstruction of a Six-Ton tank. Based on the FT-17, The US sold several of them to Canada at the beginning of the Second World War as scrap metal. That they were completely refurbished and in good running condition was not mentioned on the bill of sale. They were used to train Canada's infant armoured forces.

Tucked away in the dark in the exit corridor from the vehicle gallery are some very fine and very large canvasses. Above is William Nicholson's Canadian Headquarters Staff

This one I do not immediately have a name for.  Both were well over 8 feet in length and height.

From a later war and in a more down home style:

Leaving the War Museum the provincial flags were still at half mast:

Like so many maple leaves......

We will never forget the fallen.



Blighters  - Siegfried Sassoon

THE House is crammed: tier beyond tier they grin
And cackle at the Show, while prancing ranks
Of harlots shrill the chorus, drunk with din;
‘We’re sure the Kaiser loves our dear old Tanks!’
I’d like to see a Tank come down the stalls,         5
Lurching to rag-time tunes, or ‘Home, sweet Home’,
And there’d be no more jokes in Music-halls
To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

A Matter of Tactics - Soldier's Companion

Oh'ktava'an reached into the bowel of roasted pier worms an plucked out a particularly plump one. He slid a thumbnail under the carapace and flipped off the shell revealing the smokey golden contents. He chewed contemplatively, savoured the chewy morsel and tossed the empty shell onto an ever growing pile on one corner of the planning table.  Pier worms were an affectation, no a habit, picked up from his days as a young band commander posted to a remote village beyond the end of the canal as the expression went.
Out there, they were the only reliable food source that wasn't marsh root. In the city, they were the food of the poor and the canal rats, too plain, too simple and too basic for city tastes.

That was the problem laid out on the planning table. Since the Red Devils had arrived the forces of Mars had forgotten the basics. What worked for beating down a rebellious hill tribe wasn't going to water the crops here. These off-worlders knew what they're doing and with arms better than any seen on Mars since before Seldon. Far too often, brash warband leaders had charged the Red Men head on, trusting force of will to overcome force of arms. Far too often they had failed - cut down by measured rifle fire. That many of these officers were militant members of the Ground Cleansers was something of a bonus - there is no room for fanaticism on the battle field.

He picked up a sheaf of papyrus covered with rows of figures. They covered every battle and skirmish since the arrival of the Red Men that his agents could find data for. The solution to the off worlder menace was somewhere in those numbers. He had sent a house servant down to the human quarter to purchase an assortment of toy warriors - in metal no less. To live in a world where good metal was wasted on children's toys...

No matter. Beginning with what was known, he laid out the first problem: A head on charge into the Red Men's line.

Unlike the massed unit tactics used in the old wars between the city states, the Red Men usually formed their men into a line two deep facing the enemy

This was vulnerable to being broken through in melee, but allowed all of the rifles to fire.

The Red Men's guns had so far proven to be most effective starting at about 320 paces* This was just beyond the distance a regular cutter column could be expected to charge  in one battle phase. So a measured move of  just under 160 paces would be required to stay out of the most effective range. (regular foot move is 18", close range for rifles is 16")  He shuffled through the sheets of reed paper.  There it was: with the normal unit of 20 Red Devils firing against a column, there was a 1 in 6 chance of each red man hitting something but also a chance each hit would be harmless. (base hit 6, long range +2, target in column -1  for a final to hit of 7 which is 6  with saves on a 1 or less = 20 x .167 (1 in 6) = 3.34 less save of 3.34x.167 (1 in 6) = .5 therefore 3 hits ) So that would be... about 3 warriors taken out of the battle.  Having taken casualties, trained troops can be expected to falter in the attack.... (morale 8 - 3 hits = morale 5 2d6 for 5 or less =27.8% ~30% )  a little more than 2/3s of the time and stand idle and possibly receive round after round of fire until they break and run. (Check on a 6, or 7 - 29% combined, Shaken on an 8+, 41%)

 Not good. But running away might be their best option anyway. If the Red Men gain the upper hand, that is another round of fire for another 2 warriors down and another chance to for them to break and run. Even if the warriors keep the initiative and charge in...  that's 20 rifles with those infernal magazines at point blank range... (base hit 6, target in column -1 and charging -1 for a final hit of 4 or .667. 2 dice per rifle at short range so 40 x .667= 27 hits ) and the warriors are completely wiped out. An inglorious and pointless death whatever the Worm Priests might say.

Now where are those reports - ah here. For open order after the first move we have can expect: (base hit 6, +2 for long range +1 for open order is a to hit of 6 with saves on 3 in 6. This give around two unsaved hits. Morale 8 -2 hits for final morale 6 ~41.6% . As above check on a 7 or 8 ~30% and shaken on 9+ ~28%  ) two warriors injured and a failed attack 3 of five times.  And these numbers are for Canal regulars, the mercenaries would be less steady in the fight. As expected, frontal assault was not the way forward.

The temple bells sounded across Oenotria marking the midday meal and prayer. The pungent smell of smoked river eel drifted up from the kitchen below. Oh'ktava'an neatly stacked the reed sheets.  There has to be a better way, but first lunch.

*Yes, I am throwing a 0 on the end of the range in inches and calling it paces and changing turn to battle phase just to make the story work. ;)